AITA for criticizing how my girlfriend takes job interviews?
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AITA for criticizing how my girlfriend takes job interviews?

Welcome, one and all, to the next iteration of The Journal That Talks Back podcast! If you’re new here, you should definitely check out our previous series, Character Coaching. Here’s the elevator pitch: “What if some of the worst, funniest or most messed-up TV and movie characters signed up for life coaching?”

Based on that premise, we spent months writing journals as some of the most famous characters from popular media and coaching them through their problems. Naturally, a lot of laughs (and some chaos) ensued… because there’s no easy way to give dudes like Walter White or Ron Swanson life advice without getting into some hijinks along the way. 

But that’s the old, and this is the new. Our new podcast series has been lovingly titled “Am I The BLEEP!?!,” which we coined after the wildly entertaining Reddit thread of the same name. 

In this new series, we’re going to read journal posts from the R/AITA thread and decide whether or not the authors are, in fact, assholes. In highly scientific fashion, we’ll be rating posters from 1-10 (1 means you’re practically an angel; 10 means you’re a code-red asshole), and we’ll stop here and there to discuss the situations at hand. It’s part entertainment, part real-time coaching, and fully educational… we promise. 

With that said, feel free to listen to the audio podcast of our very FIRST AITA episode… or, if you’re impatient, you can read our thoughts on select journal posts below.  

Post: Am I the asshole for not allowing my stepdaughter and her boyfriend to share a room?

“This is kind of a lot, so I apologize. I, a 42 year old female, am married to my husband, who's 47. My husband and I have been together for 16 years. We have a 14 year old son, Jasper, and an 11 year old son, Jason.

My husband was married previously for three years and had a daughter whose name is Allie, and she's 22. My husband and I [would have Allie at our house] during the summer every year. So Allie and I should have formed a relationship, but sadly, we did not. She was not interested in a relationship with me. 

Recently, Allie planned to come visit us for a week with her two year old daughter and her boyfriend, Mick, of three years, accompanying. My husband and I decided Allie and our grandchild could have the guest bedroom, but Mick would sleep on the couch in the living room since they're not married. When Allie arrived on Monday and found out about the sleeping arrangements, she was very upset and demanded Mick to sleep in the guest room with her and their baby.

My husband and I told her no, that he's more than welcome in the room during the day, but would need to sleep on the couch. She started yelling, called me an asshole, said I wasn't even her real mom, and that I was turning her dad against her. I told her I was sorry she felt that way, but the answer was still no.

She got really mad and they left to stay at her mother's. My husband has suggested just letting them sleep in the same room so they will come back. But I feel like our request isn't unreasonable. Am I the asshole?”

Response: 

In our first journal, we have a situation where a stepmother and a stepdaughter can’t seem to get along. The stepmother wants her stepdaughter to respect the rules of the house. She doesn’t want her stepdaughter and her boyfriend to sleep in the same room. In response, the stepdaughter blows up, and takes her kid and boyfriend elsewhere. 

Who’s right and who’s wrong? To start, it’s not unreasonable that the poster wants someone else to respect the rules of their house. We can’t tell why she doesn’t want them sleeping in the same room — it might be for religious reasons, it might not — but either way, it’s a reasonable feeling to want people to be gracious of your space. 

But…unlike a step-parent who’s been involved in their step-child’s life for a long time, this poster hasn’t done any of the groundwork to assert these rules. How can the stepdaughter trust the poster if they’ve never developed a formal relationship? And why should she, if they’ve spent an entire summer together without forming a bond?

Clearly, the poster doesn’t have a good relationship with her stepdaughter. So what good does it do to make things harder on her stepdaughter the moment she enters her home by creating arbitrary rules that must be followed? 

Instead of using a moment of connection as a moment to bond, the stepmother instead decided to create a rift between them, and when it became clear that she’d offended her stepdaughter, she put her foot down further. 

In another world, the poster could’ve gotten curious. She could’ve asked why her stepdaughter wanted to sleep in the same room. Is it so that her baby’s father can sleep nearby? Or does the boyfriend have a bad back and can’t sleep well on a couch? There are a lot of perfectly good reasons why the step daughter would want her boyfriend to sleep in the same room; all the poster had to do was ask. 

Again, it’s not unreasonable to ask people to respect your wishes in your home, but if you have no real relationship with those people, don’t expect them to bow down to your decree. Like our poster here, it’ll probably just get thrown in your face. 

Asshole Rating: 5/10

Post: Am I the asshole for criticizing how my girlfriend takes job interviews?

“My girlfriend is at a job she can't do remotely, and we're planning to move to another state together, so she's job hunting right now. Her first interview, she had a call with a top company whose recruiter had messaged her on LinkedIn. 

I was expecting her to treat it normally, but she spent an hour grilling the company on its engineering practices, then withdrew her application. The next few calls with companies she had, she basically grilled them all, and decided against moving forward with four of the six. I told her around then that I feel like she's making a mistake, being so picky, and she's going to ruin her reputation in the industry if she's going around taking interviews and cutting the process off early.

She said she wasn't making any enemies; hell, the companies she dropped had been emailing and calling constantly, wanting to bring her in for another interview or asking her to reconsider. If anything, she was a hotter commodity. I felt like she was probably still hurting her reputation long term, even if her little power play was working for a bit.

She said it wasn't a power play, it was professional, she just didn't want to waste anyone's time.

But the next interview I overheard started a big argument. One of her final two companies had her taking a Zoom interview and she was laughing it up with an interviewer and he was telling her this story about how he and his coworkers fell off a barge into the river working on a project. 

And she just was like, "Wait, they had y'all doing that, not tied off to anything? Look, as funny as that is, that's honestly kind of fucked up they put y'all in danger like that. I'm honestly gonna have to withdraw my application."

She got off the phone and said "Damn, people really tell on themselves if you just listen and smile, did you hear that shit?" And I said that I thought she ended it a little prematurely — like, she didn't even ask if they'd changed [any company policy] there. She just ended the call.

I said it felt like she was trying to delay getting a new job. Was she getting cold feet or something? She said no, this is literally how people at her level interview; she was serious about the interview process and she wasn't interested in walking into a shitshow.

I said that was BS. That she was sabotaging herself on purpose, basically haranguing the companies who want to hire her on the phone. And she was like, "Why do they keep coming back for more then? Like, I'm critical, but I'm not wrong, and they know it."

We had this big fight. She insisted that anyone who was at her career level needed to interview companies just as much as they were being interviewed by the company in order to see whether they were worth their time, just as much as the other way around. I said that was BS. She got mad that I was telling her about her own career and said she knew it better. 

Am I the asshole for arguing with my girlfriend about her interviews? I feel like she's dragging her feet, she says she's interviewing normally for her field.”

Response: 

Lots to unpack here. Let’s start by saying that as coaches, we always want to begin by assuming positive intent. We never assume that the person writing is trying to do bad things. And, whether or not this account of events is accurate, what matters is that this post captures how the poster felt at the time.  

With that said, we can infer that the poster’s girlfriend does some very specialized work. She mentions engineering work a lot, and that companies are clamoring to hire her. If that’s all true, then she’s certainly right that she knows the field better than her boyfriend.

Despite this, the boyfriend keeps saying he thinks it’s “BS” that she’s not moving forward with an engineering position. But how does he know the intricacies of an engineering position, or how an interview for a top-level position should go? 

He doesn’t. Not that he’s stupid, or mean, but he simply doesn’t have the information required to make a claim like that. Instead, what he really seems to be getting at is that he’s nervous. His mind seems to be saying, “We’re both about to move out of state soon, and it’s really anxiety-inducing that you don’t have a job right now. We’ve got a lot of upcoming expenses, and I’m worried.”

So, this is definitely a couple moving through a major transition and communicating poorly about it. On the guy’s part, he’s sort of mansplaining how his girlfriend should interview, and the girlfriend isn’t having a *real* conversation with him about their big move. Neither of them are achieving their shared goal, which is to move and thrive together. 

Instead of coming at each other aggressively, the boyfriend could reframe things by saying: “I'm really excited to move with you to another state. But when I see an interview not work out, it makes me feel anxious, because we're delaying something that I'm really looking forward to, and we’re not taking a step forward as a couple.”

That’s a totally different conversation than “I think the way you take interviews is bullshit.”

So, working off of that, it’s probably in the boyfriend’s best interest to take a step back and ask himself what he wants to accomplish. If the goal is to work together with his girlfriend to help her land a position and move somewhere else, then changing up his beliefs, tactics and communication strategies will help him do that. 

The verdict? The poster’s not an asshole, but he is going about this whole process a little misguidedly. In the end… he’s a mid-tier asshole, with some extra asshole points awarded for continuously insisting he’s right. 

(And no, for the record, we don’t actually think any of these people are assholes… we’re just playing along. 😎)

Asshole Rating: 6/10‍

Original Posts:

  1. AITA for not allowing my stepdaughter and her boyfriend to share a room
  2. AITA for criticizing how my girlfriend takes job interviews?
  3. AITA for refusing to attend my wife's BF's wedding?